“Coaching team often told me that I was fat and nothing would work out for me. Told that even in social networks, soon no one will need me with my body.” open interview with Elizaveta Nugumanova
Frank Interview with Elizaveta Nugumanova. Skater told that coach refused to coach her, did not give ice and even forbade social networks. Also about age minimum and friendship with Sasha Trusova.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 26th May 2022 by Maxim Khorenkov
Elizaveta Nugumanova is one of the brightest and most memorable Russian figure skaters of our time. Last season, she finished third at the Russian Nationals (among senior skaters) – perhaps the most toughest competitions in the world figure skating – and was preparing to go to the World Championships, this season she lost international competitions and place in the national team.
Fans believed that the figure skater herself was to blame for the decrease in results – they say, she had less motivation and all that. But in a long and extremely frank interview Liza told what problems she actually faced.
How would you assess your last season?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: It was really weird for me. For some reason, they didn’t allow me compete at the Russian Nationals, at the Russian Cup Final, although there were places. I prepared hard, planned to go, but for some reason no one even sent an application for it. Therefore, I missed the Final, although I would certainly have performed well there. I don’t know what to say. I am both offended and hurt … I try to let go of the last season somehow and move on.
You didn’t qualify for the Russian Nationals by the results of Russian Cup, did you?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Well, in general, I don’t understand how a person from the national team can not qualify. It has always been that those who are in the team – in the reserve or in the main team – performed. I really wanted to compete at the Russian Nationals, because it was in St. Petersburg, I would invite everyone to come … Well, I prepared, worked on step sequences with Nikolai Moroshkin, he helped me a lot all season. In general, we have been preparing for something all season, but in the end – nothing.
For the Russian Cup Final, as I said, the application was simply not sent. It is unpleasant. But I can’t apply myself – this should be done by the coaches. But that’s what heppened. I was well prepared for it, I would have been the first there and qualify for the national team. But apparently… I don’t even know what to call it.
Why didn’t they send it? As far as I understand, this is what the school should do?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: The coach must send to the school, the school – to the federation. The scheme is complex. And as for why they didn’t send it, people simply didn’t want it. Nobody gave me an explanation. I purposefully prepared for it in order to take first place and get into the reserve of the national team.
Of course, I have strong resentment. I didn’t say anything for the whole season, I didn’t give interviews. On the other hand, there is little sense in resentment either. You can’t persuade them if they don’t want to, right?
Let’s be specific: when we say “they”, we actually mean Evgeni Vladimirovich Rukavitsin, right?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Yes. The coaches had to send an application, I asked them to do it. But in the end, they just told me: “You didn’t qualified.” And I thought – well, how so? There are places, and in this case, anyone who skated at two stages of the Russian Cup can compete in the Final. But the coaches didn’t want to send me there, and I lost the chance to end the season on a good note.
It turns out, you have some kind of conflict with Evgeni Rukavitsin?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: I have no. I am a positive girl, non-confrontational. But when the people who coach you don’t even give you a chance… I didn’t understand it.
Although, to be honest, there were a lot of incomprehensible moments. It all started with the fact that I was told that I wasn’t participating in test skates. I thought it’s okay, probably, the main team of the national team will go there. Therefore, I didn’t really prepare for the test skates and got in shape by September – early October. And then, four days before the test skates, they tell me: “That’s it, we’re going.”
But I don’t have either a normal program, or shape, and they tell me: “Well, you’re going anyway.” Of course, to perform at test skates is a great honor. The public is there, specialists are looking at you, pointing out mistakes. But if in addition to all this I had also been in shape, it would have been wonderful (laughs). But no.
Of course, I wasn’t ready for the test skates. Now I can’t even look at myself there – the short program is more or less, but the free… I agree, of course, that you should always be ready for anything, but it’s still hard for me to get in shape in 4 days.
But it’s impossible to properly prepare in 4 days.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Well, you can tell someone to prepare in 4 days, but I can’t do it. As for the strange moments, it all started with the training camp. There, the each from the team lived in a separate room, and the guys could come to their place and recover. And I lived with another girl. She is younger than me, and her ice training starts at 6 in the morning, and mine starts at 11. Because of this, I could not recover normally, it was uncomfortable. After all, children do not have a regimen, they do what they want, and because of this, it is impossible to relax.
I didn’t understand why, even being in the national team, I don’t have the same conditions as the others. We are on an equal footing! But I repeat – I still look at everything with a positive attitude, you can’t kill it in me.
Do you have an explanation why this happened?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: To be honest, there was no reason for that. I don’t argue with anyone, I don’t conflict. It’s all incomprehensible to me.
But you still train with Rukavitsin?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: For now, yes.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: I just want to go on vacation now and think about everything. I will have 12 days of rest, then the show. During this time, I want to abstract from everything, because I have endured a lot of things lately – both humiliation and all that. So now I need to reboot and think about where to go next.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Yes. The team often told me that I was fat, that nothing would work out for me. There were even such words: “Even in your social networks, soon no one will need you with your body.” It was funny to hear that.
You are now talking about very serious things.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Well, so. I have a team that constantly says that I have problems with weight. I actually never had any. But ok, they tell me that I need to lose weight – I listened to them, lost weight, after all they are my coaches. But the situation sometimes reaches the point of absurdity.
I still think that women’s skating should be women’s. Yes, I don’t argue, Anya (Shcherbakova) and Kamila (Valieva) are beautiful. But they are like this – thin, fragile, beautiful. And I’m like this and I can’t be smaller physically. Plus, they are still a little younger than me, this is also a factor.
As a result, I lost weight, of course, but you can’t cross the line. I also look at myself from the outside and understand that I look good on the ice. I’m not blind. And if I understood that I didn’t look very good, I would definitely fix everything, but this is not so. Well, I’m not fat! And the whole last season the coaches were telling me the opposite: that I am fat, that nothing works out because of the weight.
But have you thought to change the coach, and not to face these and not spoil the psyche?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Well, it’s really hard to unsettle me with something like that. I have a friend Masha Talalaikina, we have always been together in this group. She also had problems, she was told a lot of things. And I have the same story.
We made friends at the Russian Nationals in Chelyabinsk. Since then, we have supported each other, and everything was fine. To a greater extent, of course, it was me who supported Masha, because I’m very self-confident (laughs). But still we stayed together and somehow coped with everything.
All of this is hard to bear. It’s hard to work in a team that doesn’t believe in you, teases you about your social media ads or something like that. This is all unpleasant to hear.
There was another moment – I was the only girl in the academy who managed to get into the Russian team, and for a long time at the entrance we had a photo of me on the stand of the best students. And for some reason it was removed from this season. The rest remained: Andrei (Mozalev), Dima (Aliev), but I was removed. This is strange.
About advertising. I have a personal car, and there is also a car from a brand that I work with. Sometimes I give this car to my mother and at this time I myself drive my own car. And every time I came to the academy on my own car, the coaches said: “Oh, well, that’s it, they finished working with you, right?” They were just waiting for something bad to happen.
Well, why not think about changing the coach in this case?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: At the beginning of the season it is strange to think about this. Well, and in the middle too … I had, in fact, a hopeless situation. Therefore, now I want to recover and think for the 200th time what to do next.
But are you still going to skate?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Yes, I will skate anyway, my career continues. I like to skate, I won’t leave it. And people will not be able to unsettle me, no matter what happens. It just so happened last season that I didn’t have a coach. I worked alone.
What do you mean?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Well, literally. All last season after the test skates, I trained on my own. I skated on younger ice, with small children.
Why? How did the coaches explain this?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: They told me: “You don’t deserve music on senior ice. You don’t deserve to skate here, I decided so. Nastya Gubanova, Makar (Ignatov), Dima (Aliev) – they all were there. There were about 5 people working there.
Well, not many.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Yes. And on in the younger group, where they sent me, 20-25 people skated in total. And I didn’t understand why. No, of course, Dima is the European champion, Makar and Nastya are also great. But if we talk about the national team, then at that time I was on the same level with Dima, we were both in the reserve. Why, in this case, one is sent to skate with the kids on his own, and the other – on the ice with seniors? Well, they said: “I decided so” – and that’s it. They said, you can come, you can not come. How can I not skate? I do need ice.
At the senior ice, the schedule is also very convenient – training starts at 11 am. For me, it’s just perfect, I had time to study and do everything else. For me it’s not like for other guys who at Lesgaft (Physical culture university – ed.), they don’t give me any slack at my university. I said: “I can’t do it on schedule, I need senior ice.” Not even because there are a lot of people, although this is also a factor. But I was refused.
Because of this, the season didn’t turn out well. If there was normal work, if the team worked with me, if there was a general physical training that was normally selected for athletes, if everything worked out better with the programs, everything would be different. Why they changed my free program, I still don’t understand. I think it was very good, sincere. As a result, we did not have time to choreograph it to the end before the test skates, I came there with it, and everyone pretended that it was how it should be.
And in the course of the season, the program did not improve, because there was no person who would help me. I was not even allowed to shoot on the ice so that I could look at myself from the outside. “You are not skating alone, put your phone away!” – They just came and took it.
And at the end of the season, I was forbiden to use social networks. Not even on the rink, but in general! “Liza, if you skate at our school, you can’t use social networks,” I already felt funny. Well Makar and Dima can, but I’m somehow different, or what? Social networks are my hobby, there are a lot of people who support me, so why should I abandon it? And the funny thing is that there is a girl in the team who leads the group page. She came to the rink almost every day and filmed Makar and Dima jumping, posted it all. So she can, but I can’t?
I always arrive on time, I am not late, I keep the regime. I live for sports. Even at the university I agreed that they would make me an individual plan, although I had previously studied full-time. Now I need to study for a year more, and all in order to continue skating. Why then is it so?
How did your parents and friends react to all this? Sasha Trusova?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Mom told me: “Well, finish it already, why endure it?” She was tired of seeing my tears, and I cried a lot. And Sasha Trusova – well, what can she say in this situation? Think, relax – everything is the same that I say to myself.
And even in spite of the tears, you did not think to quit?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Well, I had tears not because I couldn’t. If something does not work out, you just need to work harder and everything will change. And when there is bullying, threats like “now I will trip you up, and you will hurt yourself” …
By the way, after sports, you seemed to be going into journalism. Didn’t change your mind?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Well, I really like journalism. Especially television, I like to be a host. But I still have a lot of time, my whole life is ahead of me. Will have to think.
What do you dislike about modern sports journalism?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Many journalists turn everything for the worse, I faced it. I didn’t communicate with anyone for a year, it happens that they send and approve one text, but publish completely different words that you didn’t even say. And if later you say that you didn’t say these words, then they are unlikely to believe you. I faced this 3 times.
What do you think about the current realities in figure skating? Suspensions and so on.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: It will be difficult to perform for all our girls who are 15-16 years old, it seems that there will be no international competitions for Russia. It’s terrible, it’s hard. Maybe we need to make the Russian Cup bigger. When you compete at the World and European Championships, there are a lot of people, it affects the athletes, it’s a different mood. I think that not everyone will want to continue their career now if there are no international events.
Is it hard to find motivation due to the lack of international competitions?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Yes, especially for those who have previously competed in world events. Our girls are having a hard time now.
Don’t you think that there will be an outflow of figure skaters from Russia? Perhaps someone wants to change citizenship.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: As far as I know, not all countries accept Russian athletes, not everyone is ready to work with us now. It doesn’t matter what level the athlete is. Most likely, they will simply leave (the sport). We are now talking about those who have already been at a high level, this is a huge job. I know how hard it was for the Olympians, who first went to Krasnoyarsk, stayed there for two weeks, daily tests, closed rooms, and so on. It’s all insanely difficult.
In the off-season, the main topic will be the ISU Congress and, in particular, the question of the age minimum. What do you think about this? Do we need it in figure skating?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: It’s definitely needed. Now young girls are coming, and this is not women’s skating. There are exceptions, of course, like Liza Tuktamysheva. She has an adult, mature skating, but this is almost the only example today. I want to prolong figure skating, because the girls finish early. I think everyone would like to see them more.
Do you think the age minimum will really prolong careers? Why should this happen?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: If the age minimum is raised, the girls will have motivation. Competitiveness will become approximately the same for everyone, there will be approximately the same level for everyone. Therefore, it seems to me that with the age minimum, careers will be longer.
Now almost all young girls in Russia jump quads, but the situation is such that they all finish early enough, because everyone is preparing specifically for the Olympics. Alina Zagitova, for example, did not jump quads, but also left quite early – after her victorious World Championships, when she was only 17 years old. Prior to this, Yulia Lipnitskaya finished quickly. I don’t want the same thing to happen to girls today.
On the other hand, imagine if you had to wait at least one year to enter the senior competitions. Isn’t this detrimental to the motivation of young athletes?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: On the contrary, I would have kept myself in shape even more carefully. But in principle, I left the juniors quite late. In my time, juniors were Polina Tsurskaya, Alina, Stasya (Konstantinova). There were fewer of those who move to seniors, and now there are so many of them that it is impossible to count. Each girl from the current Russian Championships can be the first at the senior World Championships. Each!
You used to say that you have one real friend in sports – Masha Talalaikina. But lately you often appear in the company of Sasha Trusova. Tell us how you met and how you became friends.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: We have actually known each other for a long time. About 5 years ago, at the Russian Nationals in St. Petersburg, we already talked. She always came with dogs, each time with a different one (laughs).
But Sasha and I began to communicate very closely after Beijing. I texted her in the evening after the free program, and she answered right in a second. Immediately, blue checkmarks appeared in WhatsApp. I thought she wouldn’t answer at all – of course, such a difficult competitions, a person needs to recover. For example, I don’t read anything after competitions if it’s emotionally difficult.
And we began to communicate, I think, because Sasha rarely communicates with anyone from sports. She doesn’t have many close skating friends to talk to.
Probably the most memorable moment from the Olympics is Sasha’s words after the free skate. Do you have an explanation for what happened then?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Well, how do you think a person feels who has done the maximum, has been going to this all his life, and in the end it happened like this? I understand her perfectly, really. We discussed these words with Sasha, by the way, right after the Olympics, and I supported her. It’s hard … Sasha also asked not to shoot, not to follow her, but they continued. Well, why? It is clear that everyone wants ratings, PR, but she is also a person. She has feelings.
She, along with our other guys, first sat in this Krasnoyarsk, then in Beijing with restrictions, she kept all this in herself. Of course it’s hard.
The main thing that Sasha did at the Olympics was five quads in the free program. But before, you said that you were skeptical about quads. There is a contradiction, isn’t there?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: I don’t think so. I just don’t understand people who say that Sasha doesn’t skate. I watch TikTok very often, they post videos from her programs in slow motion. This is wow! Why does everyone say she doesn’t skate?
It is clear that everything cannot be done ideally with quads. But to say that Sasha is worse than someone in the components, in my opinion, this is a complete lie. Sasha has skating. We performed in the show together in the spring, and I was amazed at how fast she was! And these are also components.
She has wonderful arms, you can see it in video cuts. At the end of her free program she does it beautifully in the final pose! She looks at the judges, does not forget about her hands even in the middle of the program, and this is really difficult. And she does it well.
She has components, that’s for sure. Therefore, for me, Sasha is an Olympic champion, and not at all because we are friends now. Before the Olympics, after all, we did not communicate so closely. And I am not saying this with the aim of offending Anya Shcherbakova, by no means. She is great. But for me it’s like this.
Regarding the hype. Many are now discussing by the relationship between Sasha and Mark – they say, it’s too early, in big sport this is all incompatible. Nonsense or truth?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: I knew that there would be such a question (laughs). Now we were drinking tea with my mother, and she was like this: “Well, they will definitely ask about Sasha and Mark.” What can I say … Recently Sasha came to St. Petersburg, the next day Mark arrived. And on the second day I saw them together for the first time, when we went to a restaurant. They are so good, so cute! Sasha is generally recognized everywhere. When we go somewhere with Sasha, she is noticed at every corner.
As for sports – why should it interfere? On the contrary, when there is support, it’s great. And then, as I said before, at such a high level they think first about work, and then about everything else. So no, it won’t hurt anything.
Well, you’ll probably get recognized too.
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Generally yes, really often. Especially in the subway – they always come up there. In the area where I live, everyone knows that there is “Liza the Figure Skater”. For some reason, that’s what they call it (laughs). Plus, my car is pasted over, due to it they will also find out.
Do they often try to hit on you on the streets?
Elizaveta Nugumanova: Constantly! This often happens at traffic lights. But I don’t want to meet them. (laughs).
Elizaveta Nugumanova: I just don’t want to meet anyone. Especially on the road (laughs). Sometimes they stop at a traffic light, and I’m always in my thoughts, sitting, switching music. And they drive right up close and are like: “Well, will you give your number?” Yes, now of course! (Laughs.) And I never give my number to anyone. Only special people have it.
In general, I don’t tell anything about my personal life. Never in my life will I post a photo with my soulmate – except perhaps when I get married.
Alexei Zheleznyakov: “If Tutberidze hadn’t been strict, there wouldn’t have been such results. Her athletes would have been spineless worms that can barely skate. And no one would have known about Tutberidze and her girls”